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There was talk in another thread about the country's education system and we talked about starting a thread about it. As a teacher, I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgeable on it, so I thought I'd get it started.

As far as this thread goes, I'm up for about whatever. I can talk about my experiences and my classes, answer questions, give my thoughts and opinions on things or whatever else people want.

I'm sure there are other teachers on here who could chime in too.

I'm on the bus on the way to our baseball game, so I won't be back for a while to answer, but I thought this could get it started.

Hopefully they'll be some talk when I check back in a few hours!

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I'm not in the educational field but think I would have enjoyed that career. Working in the financial services field, I do a fair amount of educating. My brother in law is the social studies chair at a large suburban HS and we often bounce things off each other.  Months ago I came across this article on education and, while lengthy, it made quite an impression on me. It makes a ton of common sense to me and was quite thought provoking in what the future of education might look like.

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/frontlinethoughts/rethinking-education

 

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1 hour ago, Reacher said:

I'm not in the educational field but think I would have enjoyed that career. Working in the financial services field, I do a fair amount of educating. My brother in law is the social studies chair at a large suburban HS and we often bounce things off each other.  Months ago I came across this article on education and, while lengthy, it made quite an impression on me. It makes a ton of common sense to me and was quite thought provoking in what the future of education might look like.

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/frontlinethoughts/rethinking-education

 

We're on the bus back from getting snowed out. Gotta love Illinois weather! I won't be able to read it on the bus, but I look forward to reading it when I get home tonight.

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3 hours ago, HoosierFaithful said:

What is the most impactful small-scale policy change that could be enacted?

Just got home so have some time to give a thought out answer.  

To be transparent going into this, I teach high school chemistry and physics, so I am admittedly biased a little bit.  It isn't without research into it though, so hopefully it is justified.

I think the best small scale change whether it is local, state, or national would be to invest more into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).  I think the biggest mistake in our education system was pushing for all kinds of testing in Math and English.  I'm not a fan of testing in general, but the insistence on testing led to other things getting pushed to the side.  So many things over the years have been cut or pushed to the side because we have to spend months preparing for testing!

We obviously need to learn English to be capable members of society, but I would love to see it more incorporated into other subjects (lab reports in science, historical papers in history classes, etc.).  Our society isn't going to advance because of the next great novel.  It's going to advance because of the next great engineer/scientist. I think too often English class means spending weeks reading books that nobody gives a damn about (and usually doesn't read anyways).  And like I said, I don't mean to downplay English because it is necessary to be able to read and write and all that good stuff that comes along with it.

The beauty of STEM is that it isn't just something that is taught in science, math and technology classes.  It can be incorporated into other classes to make them better.  One of our English classes has kids write a paper on a recipe to work on their procedural writing.  They have to explain why that recipe is important to them, and then they have to present to the class the directions as if they were teaching them to make the recipe.  Now, that's a much better lesson than just having everybody write about the same thing and explain the same thing, but here is an example of what a STEM lesson teaching the same English concepts would look like.

Students would read a short story that has a survival concept.  Think something along the lines of Hatchet, but a 5 minute survival story.  Students would read the story, and then each student would have to go outside and build their own shelter that has to house a plastic army man.  They can use whatever they find outside.  Sticks, leaves, garbage, mud, grass, etc.  Completely open to each student to make their own thing.  They would need to take notes the whole time they are doing it.  Once they finish their shelter, they would need to write a paper about it.  What went well, what didn't go well, how well it would work as a shelter.  They would then write out step by step directions for how someone would make the same shelter.  The next day, everyone switches their directions with another person, and they have to try to recreate the other person's shelter based only on the directions they were given.  Whatever couple recreates each other's shelters the best wins.  That's the difference between teaching STEM and teaching English.  Students still get the exact same English concepts out of the lesson, but there is a big engineering aspect to it that would greatly increase engagement, understanding, and other skills.

The idea of STEM is meant to teach students to become creators of content instead of consumers of content.  Teaching STEM is a wild idea.  There are lessons where I have no idea what the heck is going on and I sit back and let the kids figure it out on their own.  Learning about velocity in physics, our coding club got a Sphero Sprk ball, and I placed X's in the hallway and told the kids they had to program the ball to land on the X.  I am definitely not an expert in coding, but I just sat back and let the kids do it all.  They didn't know how to code either, but they figured it out.  They had to measure distances to get out the door, and the code they input was how long it would roll and what speed it would roll at.  That would get them to their desired distance.  Way better than just saying "a ball traveled a distance of 4 meters at a speed of 2 m/s.  How long does it take to get there?"  Still learn the same concepts, but student engagement is through the roof.

I know this was a very long answer to a short question, but I don't think it would be that difficult to incorporate STEM into all classes.  Its also something that can easily be done without jumping through a lot of governmental hoops.  I did a presentation within our district about STEM if anybody wants more information or a link to the presentation.  I also have a document with a ton of links I found for different grades and subjects if anybody is interested in that.

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7 minutes ago, Leathernecks said:

Just got home so have some time to give a thought out answer.  

To be transparent going into this, I teach high school chemistry and physics, so I am admittedly biased a little bit.  It isn't without research into it though, so hopefully it is justified.

I think the best small scale change whether it is local, state, or national would be to invest more into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).  I think the biggest mistake in our education system was pushing for all kinds of testing in Math and English.  I'm not a fan of testing in general, but the insistence on testing led to other things getting pushed to the side.  So many things over the years have been cut or pushed to the side because we have to spend months preparing for testing!

We obviously need to learn English to be capable members of society, but I would love to see it more incorporated into other subjects (lab reports in science, historical papers in history classes, etc.).  Our society isn't going to advance because of the next great novel.  It's going to advance because of the next great engineer/scientist. I think too often English class means spending weeks reading books that nobody gives a damn about (and usually doesn't read anyways).  And like I said, I don't mean to downplay English because it is necessary to be able to read and write and all that good stuff that comes along with it.

The beauty of STEM is that it isn't just something that is taught in science, math and technology classes.  It can be incorporated into other classes to make them better.  One of our English classes has kids write a paper on a recipe to work on their procedural writing.  They have to explain why that recipe is important to them, and then they have to present to the class the directions as if they were teaching them to make the recipe.  Now, that's a much better lesson than just having everybody write about the same thing and explain the same thing, but here is an example of what a STEM lesson teaching the same English concepts would look like.

Students would read a short story that has a survival concept.  Think something along the lines of Hatchet, but a 5 minute survival story.  Students would read the story, and then each student would have to go outside and build their own shelter that has to house a plastic army man.  They can use whatever they find outside.  Sticks, leaves, garbage, mud, grass, etc.  Completely open to each student to make their own thing.  They would need to take notes the whole time they are doing it.  Once they finish their shelter, they would need to write a paper about it.  What went well, what didn't go well, how well it would work as a shelter.  They would then write out step by step directions for how someone would make the same shelter.  The next day, everyone switches their directions with another person, and they have to try to recreate the other person's shelter based only on the directions they were given.  Whatever couple recreates each other's shelters the best wins.  That's the difference between teaching STEM and teaching English.  Students still get the exact same English concepts out of the lesson, but there is a big engineering aspect to it that would greatly increase engagement, understanding, and other skills.

The idea of STEM is meant to teach students to become creators of content instead of consumers of content.  Teaching STEM is a wild idea.  There are lessons where I have no idea what the heck is going on and I sit back and let the kids figure it out on their own.  Learning about velocity in physics, our coding club got a Sphero Sprk ball, and I placed X's in the hallway and told the kids they had to program the ball to land on the X.  I am definitely not an expert in coding, but I just sat back and let the kids do it all.  They didn't know how to code either, but they figured it out.  They had to measure distances to get out the door, and the code they input was how long it would roll and what speed it would roll at.  That would get them to their desired distance.  Way better than just saying "a ball traveled a distance of 4 meters at a speed of 2 m/s.  How long does it take to get there?"  Still learn the same concepts, but student engagement is through the roof.

I know this was a very long answer to a short question, but I don't think it would be that difficult to incorporate STEM into all classes.  Its also something that can easily be done without jumping through a lot of governmental hoops.  I did a presentation within our district about STEM if anybody wants more information or a link to the presentation.  I also have a document with a ton of links I found for different grades and subjects if anybody is interested in that.

Very well written, well thought-out post!

I'm curious, would you cut out standardized testing? What are your thoughts on charter schools?

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26 minutes ago, KoB2011 said:

Very well written, well thought-out post!

I'm curious, would you cut out standardized testing? What are your thoughts on charter schools?

I'm not a fan of standardized tests and would like to see them cut out.  A lot of the things good teachers do don't show up on a test.  I could teach directly to what will likely be on the standardized test and get respectable test scores, but it doesn't mean I did a good job teaching.  I don't know what a better solution would be though.

I think charter schools popped up out of a necessity for freedom within teaching (I could be wrong on that, so if I am, someone can feel free to correct me.  It could have been greed too).  Some charter schools are good, but some are borderline frauds.  I like the idea of being able to teach without government restrictions, but it seems like the majority of them are greedy and trying to make a quick buck.

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How long have you been teaching?  My friend is a history/social studies teacher in Tennessee. Been at it 10yrs now.  We had a discussion about maturity in students and how it has diminished significantly since we were that age and even more since he has been teaching. I think this is a result of parents letting media be it video games/tv/or social media basically taking a babysitting role. 

Basically he thinks kids have too much freedom without discipline. 

What are your experiences with this?  

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I am completely with Leathernecks on the "STEM" aspect.  English is the most over rated class that you have to take.  How many of us really care what a past participle is?  Let's diagram a sentence?  Really?  That stuff ain't interesting to kids now and it sure as heck wasn't interesting to me then.  

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2 minutes ago, mrflynn03 said:

How long have you been teaching?  My friend is a history/social studies teacher in Tennessee. Been at it 10yrs now.  We had a discussion about maturity in students and how it has diminished significantly since we were that age and even more since he has been teaching. I think this is a result of parents letting media be it video games/tv/or social media basically taking a babysitting role. 

Basically he thinks kids have too much freedom without discipline. 

What are your experiences with this?  

I'm in year 5.

I think a lot of it is that every generation thinks the next generation is worse than theirs.  There might even be a name for that phenomena?  There are a lot of things that kids don't see that happen, so as kids we never knew they even happened.  Also, as kids most people don't care all that much about little Johnny taking a nap so we don't remember it.  As teachers, we notice that thing and think it is the generation going bad. 

A big part of it is how quickly the world changes.  The older we get, the less we want to change.  It can be tough to relate to today's kids.  There are of course kids who aren't mature, but for the most part I don't have too much issue with it.  I think where I see a lot of issues is with teachers who are disrespectful (that might be too harsh of a word).  As soon as they see a kid do something bad, they like to show their dominance and scream at the kids or try to give them detentions instead of treating them like a human being.  That just causes things to escalate.  Of all the times I've treated kids with respect, I've only had 2 times I can think of where a kid did something really disrespectful.

I would definitely say that kids today expect to be treated with a lot more respect than kids in the past which.  In the past teachers/coaches could get away with saying about anything to kids because they are the authority figure.  Kids back then were expected to just sit there and take it.  Kids today are much more likely to speak out when something like that happens.  I don't really see that as a bad thing though since I know some teachers will say things to kids they would never say to anyone outside of a school.

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5 minutes ago, rico said:

I am completely with Leathernecks on the "STEM" aspect.  English is the most over rated class that you have to take.  How many of us really care what a past participle is?  Let's diagram a sentence?  Really?  That stuff ain't interesting to kids now and it sure as heck wasn't interesting to me then.  

I didn't want to come right out and say it, but yes.  English is absolutely important to know, but there are a lot of things that are excessive or outdated.  A lot of the same concepts can be taught in way better ways.

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7 minutes ago, Leathernecks said:

I didn't want to come right out and say it, but yes.  English is absolutely important to know, but there are a lot of things that are excessive or outdated.  A lot of the same concepts can be taught in way better ways.

English is taught at a young age.  There was no need for it to be a required for all 4 years of my HS days.  I was ready to learn new things.

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What a great thread - really interesting and informative— thanks for getting this going and for your thoughtful posts. 

Do you have any thoughts on alternatives to the one size fits all way in which our public education system is set up? By that I mean, for example, is it really necessary that kids should go to school at the same age in the same grade and be taught the same courses, and basically through high school (AP and some non/core classes excepted)?

i think there are lots of analogous examples outside of public school that draw that system into question. To me, it’s such a shoe box approach to giving kids the essential tools needed for success, and as a shoe box approach is set up to cause many kids to fail or to never develop the necessary early confidence needed to excel later in life.

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1 minute ago, Hoosierhoopster said:

What a great thread - really interesting and informative— thanks for getting this going and for your thoughtful posts. 

Do you have any thoughts on alternatives to the one size fits all way in which our public education system is set up? By that I mean, for example, is it really necessary that kids should go to school at the same age in the same grade and be taught the same courses, and basically through high school (AP and some non/core classes excepted)?

i think there are lots of analogous examples outside of public school that draw that system into question. To me, it’s such a shoe box approach to giving kids the essential tools needed for success, and as a shoe box approach is set up to cause many kids to fail or to never develop the necessary early confidence needed to excel later in life.

I'm not really up on what other systems are out there for an education that isn't one size fits all, so I'm not really sure where to start on that one.  If you want to put a link to something I'll take a look at it and see what I think.

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44 minutes ago, rico said:

English is taught at a young age.  There was no need for it to be a required for all 4 years of my HS days.  I was ready to learn new things.

The fact that works cited pages are still being taught blows my mind.  Throw a freaking link in the document like any article written in the last 5 years.

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4 minutes ago, Leathernecks said:

The fact that works cited pages are still being taught blows my mind.  Throw a freaking link in the document like any article written in the last 5 years.

English is just a sore spot with me.  I can read, comprehend, and somewhat spell!!!  LOL  I learned that before junior high!!!!!  To me it was a useless class in HS.  They should be teaching other things.  Here in Indiana, vocational stuff is being taken out of schools.  

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